Without a sense of how to become free from shame, we’re living in a culture settling for shamelessness instead. It’s a poor substitute.
To be shame-free means shame no longer has any hold on you—it doesn’t interfere with how you hear others, doesn’t muddy your relationships, doesn’t challenge the decisions you need to make, doesn’t shape the way you perceive yourself, and doesn’t influence how you see God.
To be shameless on the other hand means to live without a sense of shame—it means trying to buck the way shame makes you feel. Because this doesn’t get rid of shame itself, shame still sways your life, your relationships, and your sense of yourself.
Far from being free of shame’s influence, when we’re embracing shamelessness, we’re like speeding drivers who, upon seeing police lights behind them, drive even faster to shake the police and avoid a ticket.
Shamelessness is not an antidote for shame.
But there’s an alternate problem among those who recognize shamelessness as a problem. In response to shamelessness in others or themselves, many default to peddling shame—pointing fingers at others and/or drinking deep of their own shame.
But just as shamelessness is not an antidote to shame, neither is shame an antidote to shamelessness.
Jesus on the cross is the remedy for both. Through the chaos of the shamed and shameless, Jesus sees people in bondage to shame and its roots. And from the cross, cries out, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
For their sakes (for all of ours), Jesus . . .
- was abandoned by those who said they loved him
- was stripped naked and exposed in front of everyone
- was accused, mocked, ridiculed, laughed at
- became filthy—unrighteousness itself—for all to see
(Which of these doesn’t express how shame feels?)
Is your soul weighed down in shame? Is your conscience seared and shameless? Come to the cross. Rest as you watch the police lights pass you by. Behold the man who is your remedy.
“[Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame . . .” (Hebrews 12:2b)
Share your comments: What do you think about the idea that we try to deal with shame by pursuing shamelessness. Where do you see this around you or in your own life?